fall tv 2012

What Will Happen to Community? and Other Burning Questions About Fridays

The first week of the new fall season is (almost) behind us, and each day this week, Vulture’s been breaking down the nightly programming, question by question, night by night. We’ve covered the end times of How I Met Your Mother, Tuesday’s new comedy bloc, Britney versus Demi, and Glee’s possible fate. Now on to Fridays! Can Community thrive? Do Fridays suddenly … matter?

What will happen to Community and Whitney on Fridays? Before we attempt to answer this, we’d like to put forward the following quasi-conspiracy theory: We don’t think both, or possibly either, of these shows will actually end up on Fridays this fall. Yes, NBC sold time to advertisers and all the fall preview issues have the shows listed there. But NBC has enough problems getting viewers to watch comedy on Thursdays, and is already expanding half-hours to Tuesday and Wednesday. Adding yet another night with laughs has always seemed ill-advised to us, since it means training viewers to find these shows on a night (Friday) where NBC has zero recent history of comedies. What’s more, it’s not as if NBC’s Monday through Thursday lineup is so packed with hits that the only night it could air these shows is on Fridays. (CBS and Fox have this issue; NBC, not so much.) No, we think NBC’s secret plan is to save Community and Whitney for a rainy day: either use one or both to fill a hole elsewhere in the week, or as original programming to reduce the number of repeats on its other comedy nights later in the season. But okay, let’s say NBC is happy with how its four new comedies are performing come early October and decides to go through with the announced plans to shift Community and Whitney to Fridays. Will this spell doom for them? Probably not. While there’s virtually no chance either show will suddenly become a hit, the fan base for Community seems loyal enough that enough fans will follow to make the show perform decently, particularly once DVR data gets tallied. Whitney isn’t as established, but we don’t think NBC brass would’ve renewed it at all if they didn’t have some faith in it. If it somehow ends up airing on Fridays and bombs, we could see the network giving it a second chance earlier in the week. But again: We think NBC is already giving thought to just ditching this whole Friday nonsense altogether.

Why Doesn’t Shark Tank Get More Attention? It gets almost twice the viewers Fringe does (around 6 million on a good week), and as far as entrepreneurial shows go, it’s light-years better than any recent Apprentice and nowhere near as cruel as other reality shows. It’s not reinventing the wheel — though if anyone were going to, they’d probably do it on Shark Tank so Mark Cuban could help them monetize their million-dollar Wheel 2.0 — but you heard it here first: Team Shark Tank.

Are Fridays Legit Now? Not really. CBS’s Made in Jersey makes Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva look like Inherit the Wind, ABC’s Last Man Standing is plainly offensive, Fringe can’t cut it numbers-wise in the Monday–Thursday world, and neither can Community. Reba McEntire’s new sitcom Malibu Country, which feels like a throwback to, well, Reba, but also to any mid-nineties star-based sitcom, would be completely out of place in ABC’s regular lineup. None of the networks have programmed reruns for Friday nights (yet), but these are still marginal shows. The days when Picket Fences, The X-Files, and Homicide all aired on Friday nights are long, long gone.

Fall TV: Three Burning Questions About Fridays